When you look around at Katara Bay, there are many different types of watercraft located around our center. From our modern, plastic-hulled dinghies to the ancient Dhows, to the fast speed boats and the construction barges, it is easy to see that movement on the water is and has been a large part of world culture.
If you stop and think about it, seventy percent of our Earth is covered in water. This drastic ratio of land to sea has made humankind want to explore it since 4000 BC. Back then it was the Egyptians and Phoenicians who first used cloth sails to transport goods around the Mediterranean. We can see here that the origins of sailboats were mainly for work and transporting goods across the open water.
In fact, throughout almost all of world history, sailing has been one of the oldest forms of transportation. It was not until the late 19th Century, when steamships were invented, that sailing became out-performed as a way of naval conveyance. Even once steam engines had been invented, steamboats would still be rigged with sails to provide an extra mode of transport if the engine failed.
Sailing ships have been the ideal boats for explorers since their invention. In the golden age of exploration, tall ships, mostly with two or three masts, ruled the seas. The Greeks and the Vikings both used similar techniques in their sailboat designs, with a single large, square sail and up to three rows of oars along both sides of the ships. Even today, most adventurers don’t go for large powerboats when they want to circumnavigate the globe; they go for sailing yachts.
As we can see from the brief history above, sailing has been the traditional form of maritime movement for over six thousand years. Although motors make crossing bodies of water much faster these days, most avid adventurers prefer wind power. This sense of tradition is what makes sailing such a profoundly unique sport!
As the youngest instructor at Regatta, I find myself being able to pass on this wonderful tradition of sailing to people of all ages. I think that if more young people like myself make the effort to not only learn to sail, but also learn to teach sailing, this new millennial generation will be able to keep that sailing tradition alive and pass it down to the next generation of sailors.